Bruce Lee Fitness Secrets revealed : Here are some of Bruce's truly amazing real life feats, which I consider to be absolutely outstanding. All of this information is taken from various documentaries and magazines. There's also some quotes from his closest friends. A few of Bruce's awesome feats: Bruce Lee's striking speed from 3 feet away was five hundredths of a second. Bruce could throw grains of rice up into the air and then catch them in mid-flight using chopsticks. Bruce did press ups using only 2 fingers.
Bruce could thrust his fingers through unopened cans of Coca-Cola. (This was when soft drinks cans were made of steel much thicker than today's aluminium cans) Bruce was able to explode 100lb bags with a simple sidekick. Bruce would ride for 45 minutes (10 Miles) on a stationary bike, when he'd finished, a huge pool of sweat was beneath him. Bruce once caved in a protective headgear made from heavy steel rods, rods that had previously withstood several blows from a sledgehammer. Bruce's last movie "Enter the Dragon" was made for a modest $600,000 in 1973. To date, is has grossed over $300,000,000. Quotes From Bruce's Friends about his Amazing Feats: Herb Jackson - "Bruce was interested in becoming as strong as possible". Jesse Glover - "When he could do push ups on his thumbs and push ups with 250lbs on his back, he moved on to other exercises". Herb Jackson - "The biggest problem in designing equipment for Bruce was that he'd go through it so damn fast. I had to reinforce his wooden dummy with automobile parts so he could train on it without breaking it. I had started to build him a mobile dummy that could actually attack and retreat to better simulate "Live" combat, sadly Bruce died before the machine was built. It would have been strung up by big high-tension cables that I was going to connect between two posts, one on either side of his backyard. The reason for the machine was simply because no one could stand up to his full force punches and kicks, Bruce Lee's strength and skill had evolved to point where he had to fight machines. Bruce was very interested in strength training, you could say that he was obsessed with it".
|Elbows anchored against waist to concentrate on biceps curls|
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I remember getting knocked up against the wall by that punch. I didn't think it was possible that he could generate so much power in his punch, especially when he was just laying his hand against my chest, he just twitched a bit and Wham!!!, I went flying backward and bounced off a wall. I took him very seriously after that." Jesse Glover - "The power that Lee was capable of instantly generating was absolutely frightening to his fellow martial artists, especially his sparring partners, and his speed was equally intimidating. We timed him with an electric timer once, and Bruce's quickest movements were around five hundredths of a second, his slowest were around eight hundredths. This was punching from a relaxed position with his hands down at his sides from a distance between 18-24 inches. Not only was he amazingly quick, but he could read you too. He could pick up on small subtle things that you were getting ready to do and then he'd just shut you down". Doug Palmer - "Bruce was like the Michael Jordan or Muhammad Ali in his prime, somebody who stood above everyone else. It's not that the other martial artists weren't good. It's just that this guy was great". Jesse Glover - "Bruce was gravitating more and more toward weight training as he would use the weighted wall pulleys and do series upon series with them. He'd also grab one of the old rusty barbells that littered the floor at the YMCA and would roll it up and down his forearms, which is no small feat when you consider that the barbell weighed 70lbs".
|Grip machine in action!|
|Home made rack for isometric work and abs|
|Grip machine made for Bruce by George Lee|
"I used to run with him up and down Roscamore Road in Bel Air when we trained together during the summer of 1970. It was a very hilly terrain, which Bruce loved, and we'd do that at the beginning of each of our workouts". Mito Uhera - "He'd ride a stationary bike for 45 minutes straight (10 Miles) until the sweat would form in pools on the floor beneath him." Herb Jackson - "Bruce would wear a Weider Waist Shaper (a type of sauna belt) when riding his stationary bike. It was all black and made out of neoprene. He'd put it on before getting on the stationary bike. Then he'd turn the resistance up on it. He'd pedal the hell out of the bike. Sweat would pour out of him. He'd ride that bike for a series of 10 minute sessions. He felt that the sauna belt focused the heat onto his stomach and helped keep the fat off. Now maybe it worked and maybe it didn't, but you'd be hard pressed to find any fat anywhere on his body". Danny Inosanto - "Bruce would be constantly reading through the muscle magazines and looking for new products that would help make him leaner. If he found such an item, he'd read all about it, order it, and then try it out to see if the claims made for it were true or not. If he found that it wasn't all it was cracked up to be, he'd discard it and try something else. He was forever experimenting". Bob Wall - "Every room of his house in Hong Kong had some kind of workout equipment in it, which he'd use whenever the mood overtook him. His garage, well he never had a car in his garage because it was always filled with equipment. He had a complete Marcy gym that was located just off the kitchen. Everywhere he went, even in his office, he had barbells and dumbbells. He literally trained all the time. His bodybuilding system consisted of lifting weights on a two days on, two days off type of program. However I also know that he changed things around a lot. Generally, his program consisted of three sets per exercise and usually about 15 reps. He was doing a lot of cable work at the time, when he'd pull one way and then the other way, he was into angles and he'd never do the exact same angle twice in a single workout. He was always trying to do things in a slightly different way". Linda Lee - "Bruce's physique reached its absolute peak during the later part of 1971. I think his physique looked just as good in '73, but he had been working really hard from '72 on. It was just one movie after another when we lived in Hong Kong. So he was having less time to do all the training he would have liked to". Dorian Yates (Mr Olympia) - "He used to do that thing where he'd spread his scapulas and then tense every muscle in his body, he had an incredible physique". Jhoon Rhee - "You could show him a tremendously difficult technique that took years to perfect and the next time you saw him, he would do it better than you". James Coburn - "Bruce and I were training out on my patio one day, we were using this giant bag for side kicks, I guess it weighed about 150lbs. Bruce looked at it and just went Bang, it shot up out into the lawn about 15ft in the air, it then busted in the middle. It was filled with little bits and pieces of rag, we were picking up bits of rag for months". Danny Inosanto - "Bruce told me to come along with him one day to Joe Weider's store in Santa Monica to help him buy a 110lb cast iron weight set for his son Brandon. I thought this was an odd gift since Brandon was only 5 years old. Bruce bought this beautiful Weider barbell/dumbell set from Joe's store, and when we pulled into my driveway, he said "I'm just joking, Dan. I bought this for you". Michael Gutierrez - "Bruce Lee is very hot these days. So hot in fact, that a 8x10 sheet of paper that Bruce wrote on and signed in 1969 recently went for a cool $29,000 at the Bruce Lee Estate Auction in Beverly Hills last August". Functional Strength Dan Inosanto, another of Lee's close friends and himself an instructor in Lee's art, adds that Lee was only interested in strength that could readily be converted to power. "I remember once Bruce and I were walking along the beach in Santa Monica, out by where the 'Dungeon' (an old-time bodybuilding gym) used to be," recalls Inosanto, "when all of a sudden this big, huge bodybuilder came walking out of the Dungeon and I said to Bruce, 'Man, look at the arms on that guy!' I'll never forget Bruce's reaction, he said 'Yeah, he's big -- but is he powerful? Can he use that extra muscle efficiently?"
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Power, according to Lee, lay in an individual's ability to use the strength developed in the gym quickly and efficiently; in other words, power was the measure of how quickly and effectively one could summon and coordinate strength for "real-world" purposes. On this basis, according to those who worked out with Lee from time to time such as martial arts actor Chuck Norris, Bruce Lee -- pound for pound-- might well have been one of the most powerful men in the world. Bruce Lee Unbelievable Strength Lee's feats of strength are the stuff of legend; from performing push-ups - on one hand! - or thumbs only pushups, to supporting a 125-pound barbell at arms length in front of him (with elbows locked) for several seconds, or sending individuals (who outweighed him by as much as 100 pounds in some instances) flying through the air and landing some 15 feet away as a result of a punch that Lee delivered from only one-inch away, the power that Bruce Lee could generate -- at a mere bodyweight of 135 pounds -- is absolutely frightening. Not to mention some of his other nifty little habits like thrusting his fingers through full cans of Coca-Cola and sending 300 pound heavy bags slapping against the ceiling with a simple side kick. Strength training -- qua strength training -- was Lee's primary objective with resistance exercise. Later, as we shall soon see, his training evolved into more specialized applications that were beneficial to his specific goals as a martial artist. But before we get to there, let's first take a look at how Lee was first drawn to bodybuilding. Ideals & Possibilities For a number of years, Lee had made a concerted study of exercise physiology and anatomy. Refusing to merely accept tradition for tradition's sake - a stance that made him increasingly unpopular with the majority of his fellow martial artists who had been raised and were now in the process of passing on (without questioning) the various martial traditions of the East -- Lee's background in physiology and kinesiology had imbued him with the ability to discern a useful exercise from an unproductive one and therefore he was able to avoid the obstacle of wasted time in any of his workouts. Lee believed that the student of exercise science should aim at nothing less than physical perfection, with all that it implies in its totality; he should want great strength, great speed, great coordination, exuberant health, and, by no means least, the muscular beauty of form which distinguishes a physically perfect human being. To Lee, the whole secret of success in bodybuilding lay in the principle of progressive resistance, but he also recognized that there was another component that had won a place in the vocabulary of physical culture and that word was persistence. Certainly Lee was nothing if not persistent in his quest to fully explore and express the potential of his body, a physique that not only looked phenomenal on a movie screen but that also possessed a musculature that was geared for function. Given the physiological fact that a stronger muscle is a bigger muscle, it was only natural that Lee would in time come to appreciate the superior health-building benefits of bodybuilding -- but I'm getting ahead of myself. Let us now examine the situation that first caused Lee to appreciate bodybuilding and then we shall focus on what routine he utilized to build the muscles that served him with such tremendous efficiency. While Lee may have been aware of the general benefits to be had from a program of progressive bodybuilding exercises, it took a violent encounter to make him fully cognizant of the merits that a more regular and dedicated approach to bodybuilding could provide. A Battle in San Francisco One evening while Lee was preparing to teach a class to a group of select students in his modest San Francisco kwoon (kung fu school), the door to his school suddenly flew open and in walked a group of Chinese martial artists led by a practitioner who was considered to be their best fighter and the designated leader of the troupe. According to Lee's wife, Linda, who was both present and eight months pregnant with the couple's first child, Brandon, at the time, Lee had on a prior occasion been served with an ornate scroll saying in bold Chinese characters that he had an ultimatum: stop teaching non-Chinese students Gung fu (the Cantonese pronunciation of Kung Fu) or be prepared to fight with San Francisco's top Kung Fu man. Now, the day of reckoning had come. Lee handed the scroll disdainfully back to their leader. "I'll teach whomever I choose," he said calmly. "I don't care what color they are." While Lee's non-racist views are today generally applauded, in San Francisco's Chinatown in the mid 1960s they were tantamount to treason -- at least within the Chinese community. Indeed, teaching Chinese combative "secrets" to non-Chinese races was perceived as the highest form of treason in the martial arts community. By his words and demeanor, Lee had effectively thrown the gauntlet back at the feet of his would-be challenger and, while Lee had many virtues, it is well known among his friends, family and students that patience in suffering fools and their ignorance was not one of them.
|simplified cardio jumping rope!|
It was this fight more than any other single event that had given Lee sufficient cause to thoroughly investigate alternate avenues of physical conditioning. His conclusion? He would need to develop considerably more strength -- of both his muscles and cardiovascular system -- if he was ever to become the complete martial artist he had envisioned becoming. The Bodybuilding Connection Knowing that the muscle magazines were the only existing source of current health and strength training information, Lee immediately began to subscribe to all of the bodybuilding publications he could find. He ordered bodybuilding courses out of the magazines and tested their claims and theories. He made a habit out of frequenting second-hand bookstores and purchasing books on bodybuilding and strength training, including one written by Eugene Sandow entitled Strength & How to Obtain It -- which was originally published in 1897. Lee's hunger for knowledge in the field of bodybuilding ran so high, that he purchased everything he could get his hands on -- from "hot off the press" courses to back list classics. No price was too high for knowledge, particularly if its application resulted in the acquisition of greater bodily strength, power and physical efficiency. From this point on until his eventual death in July of 1973 (of a cerebral edema), Bruce Lee amassed a tremendous personal library of books on philosophy, martial art and an extensive selection of tomes that dealt extensively with physical fitness, bodybuilding, physiology and weight lifting. Lee would underline certain passages of text that he found particularly meaningful and would constantly jot down thoughts of how this information could be applied to martial art in the margins of the books. "Bruce used to come into his school in L.A.'s Chinatown with an armful of articles from the muscle magazines," recalls Inosanto. "He'd say 'look at this: these bodybuilders all say that they do this in order to increase their strength -- it's a common denominator running throughout all of their writings.' He'd look for consistency in things like that and would compare and eliminate the additional data that he felt was superfluous." The Routine After much research, and with the help of two bodybuilders who were also his close friends and students in the San Francisco Bay area, Lee devised a three-day-per-week bodybuilding program that he felt fit his strengthening and bodybuilding needs perfectly. According to one of these men, Allen Joe, "James Lee and I introduced Bruce to the basic weight training techniques. We used to train with basic exercises like squats, pullovers and curls for about three sets each. Nothing really spectacular but we were just getting him started." This program actually served Lee well from 1965 through until 1970 and fit in perfectly with Lee's own philosophy of getting the maximum results out of the minimum -- or most economical -- expenditure of energy. The every-other-day workout allowed for the often neglected aspect of recovery to take place. Lee coordinated his bodybuilding workouts in such a way so as to insure that they fell on days when he wasn't engaged in either endurance-enhancing or overly strenuous martial art training. The program worked like magic; increasing Lee's bodyweight from an initial 130 pounds to -- at one point -- topping out at just over 165 pounds! According to Glover, however, Lee wasn't particularly pleased with the added mass; "I noticed that he was bigger after he was weight training. There was a time after he went to California that he went up to 165 pounds. But I think it slowed him down because that was real heavy for Bruce. He looked buff like a bodybuilder. And then, later on I saw him and this was all gone. I mean, one thing that Bruce was [about] was function -- and if stuff got in the way, then it had to go. Bruce wanted his weight training to complement what he did in the martial arts. A lot of what Bruce was doing was about being able to maintain arm positions that nobody could violate in a fight. Like, if you take most people who are into bodybuilding or weight training, most of them are interested in simply building up their muscles to a bigger size, particularly the major muscle groups -- not much attention is paid to the connective tissues, like ligament and tendon strength. Well, Bruce's thing was 'let's build up the connectors and we won't worry so much about the size of the muscle.' Again, Bruce was about function." Gearing his training for function, Lee's bodybuilding routine incorporated the three core tenets of total fitness- stretching for flexibility, weight training for strength and cardiovascular activity for his respiratory system -- the original cross-trainer! (performed on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays) Exercise Sets Repetitions Clean & Press 2 8 Squats 2 12 Pullovers 2 8 Bench Presses 2 6 Good Mornings 2 8 Barbell Curls 2 8 The Breakdown of the Routine: 1.) Clean & Press: Lee would begin this movement by taking a shoulder-width grip on an Olympic barbell. Bending his knees, he would squat down in front of the resistance and, with a quick snap of his arms and a thrust from his legs, clean the barbell to his chest and stand up. After a brief pause, Lee would then thrust the barbell to arms length overhead, pause briefly, and then lower the barbell back to the top of his chest. After another brief pause, he would lower the barbell back to the floor (the starting position). With absolutely no rest, Lee would then initiate his second repetition of the movement and continue to do so until he had completed eight repetitions. After a very brief rest, so as to take full advantage of the cardio-respiratory benefits as well as the strength-building benefits, Lee would perform a second -- and final -- set. 2.) Squats: This staple of bodybuilding movements was the cornerstone of Bruce Lee's barbell training. He had dozens of articles that he'd clipped out on the mechanics and benefits of squats and he practiced many variations of this exercise. In his routine, however, he performed the exercise in the standard fashion. Resting a barbell across his shoulders, Lee would place his feet approximately shoulder-width apart. Making sure that he was properly balanced, Lee would slowly ascend to a full squat position. With absolutely zero pause in the bottom position, Lee would then immediately return -- using the strength of his hips, glutes, hamstrings, calves and quadriceps -- to the starting position, whereupon he would commence rep number two. Lee would perform 12 repetitions in this movement and, after a short breather, return and re-shoulder the barbell for one more set of 12 reps. 3.) Pullovers: Although there exists no physical evidence that Bruce Lee supersetted barbell pullovers with squats, there is reason to believe that this was case -- if only for the fact that such was the method advocated in the articles he read. Squats were considered a great "overall" muscle builder, whereas pullovers were simply considered a "rib box expander" or "breathing exercise." Consequently, the fashion of incorporating pullovers in the late 1960s and early 1970s was as a "finishing" movement for squats. This being the case, Lee would perform the movement in the standard fashion; i.e., by lying down on his back upon a flat bench and taking a shoulder-width grip on a barbell that he would then proceed to press out to full extension above his chest. From this position, Lee would lower the barbell -- making sure to keep a slight bend in his elbows so as not to strain the elbow joint -- behind his head until it touched the floor ever so slightly and provided a comfortable stretch to his lats. From this fully-extended position, Lee would then slowly reverse the motion through the contraction of his lats, pecs and long-head of the triceps. He would repeat this movement for two sets of eight repetitions. 4.) Bench Presses: Bruce Lee was able to develop an incredible chest musculature. His upper pecs were particularly impressive, bunching and splitting into thousands of fibrous bands. And, as far as his personal training records indicate, the only direct barbell movement he performed to develop his chest was the good old fashioned bench press. Lying down upon a flat bench, and again taking a shoulder-width grip on an Olympic barbell, Lee would press the weight off the support pins to arms length above his chest. From this locked-out position, Lee would then lower the barbell to his chest and, exhaling, press it back up to the fully-locked out (or starting) position. He would repeat this movement for six repetitions and then, after a brief respite, return to the bench for one more set of six reps. 5.) Good Mornings: A word of caution about this exercise. Lee performed this movement to strengthen his lower back. However, one day in early 1970 he loaded up the bar with 135 pounds (his body weight at the time) and -- without a warm up -- proceeded to knock off eight repetitions. On his last rep he felt a "pop" and found out later that he had damaged the fourth sacral nerve of his lower back. The result was the Lee had to endure incredible back pain for the remainder of his life. This is not to say that the movement is without merit, just make sure that you perform an adequate warm-up prior to employing, it. Placing a barbell across his shoulders, Lee would place his feet three inches apart (Lee would later confide to Dan Inosanto "You really don't need any weight but the empty bar on your shoulders Dan -- it's more of a limbering movement") and bend over from the waist keeping his hands on the barbell at all times. Lee would bend over until his back was at a 90 degree angle to his hips and then return to the upright position. Lee performed two sets of eight repetitions of this movement.
|Isometric device, reverse curl|
|Bruce and Brandon working out;)|
|Forearm club device|
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